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Bland Diet: What You Can and Cannot Eat For A Healthy Digestive System

bland diet


The goal of eating a bland diet is to give your digestive system a rest.  Take note that high-fiber foods are harder for the body to metabolize, while heavily spiced nutriments may aggravate the symptoms or flare-ups associated with gastrointestinal diseases such as Crohn’s diseases.

As with any special diet, you’ll need professional guidance from a nutritionist or dietician who can help you create a list of foods you can and cannot eat, which will depend on your symptoms and food intolerance.

What Is a Bland Diet?

In a nutshell, a bland diet involves foods low in fiber, soft in texture, high in pH, and are mildly seasoned. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that your meal should be flavorless, since you may use a bit of spice, provided that it won’t aggravate your gastric symptoms.

It is important that you keep a food journal where you can jot down foods that trigger your gastric symptoms, such as heartburn, nausea, cramping, and vomiting. For instance, some people with Chron’s disease can tolerate highly spiced foods, but have trouble digesting high-fat dairy foods.

Simply put, a bland diet may slightly differ from person to person.

People with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis can benefit from a bland diet, which gives their digestive system a rest during flare-ups. This condition is linked to inflammation of the intestinal tract, usually affecting the small intestine and/or colon. During flare-ups, Crohn’s sufferers may need to reduce the number and size of their bowel movements, which is one of the auspicious effects of a bland diet. This special diet also gives them relief from diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and pain.

Following this diet has also been shown to minimize the production of stomach acid, which makes this ideal for people with gastrointestinal irritation. People who will undergo gastric bypass or other types of surgery involving the digestive system may also benefit from eating a soft or bland diet. Oftentimes, they are required to stick to this special diet a few days or weeks prior to surgery, and during recovery before solid food is slowly reintroduced in their diet.


Other Tips:

If your doctor and nutritionist tells you to follow a bland diet, they may also give you additional tips to further alleviate your symptoms:

Eat smaller portions a few times a day instead of three large meals to prevent gastric symptoms such as nausea, gas, heartburn, and vomiting. Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly so your digestive tract will have less work to do. Avoid eating late at night.  A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating within two hours of going to bed.  Anecdotal reports show that going to bed with a full stomach is tied to higher risk of gastric symptoms.

Certain supplements such as licorice root and aloe vera have been shown to alleviate gastric symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as weight reduction and stress management. Sometimes, you may need medications such as acid blockers to further alleviate your digestive symptoms.

The bland diet is only recommended for a short time.  The idea is to give your digestive tract a rest, or to wait until your condition improves before a certain amount of fiber is gradually introduced in your diet.

While fibers are hard to break down, your body still needs them because of their many health benefits.  According to studies, eating fiber-rich foods promotes stable blood sugar levels, helps maintain a healthy weight, and decreases the levels of LDL cholesterol or “bad cholesterol.”  Furthermore, prolonged use of this diet could result in constipation since fibers promote healthy bowel movement, or even lead to malabsorption and malnutrition because they play a critical role in the production of healthy gut bacteria.

What Can You Eat?

To reiterate, your “food list” will depend on your doctor and nutritionist’s advice and how you “react” with certain foods. Hence, the list of things stated below should only be seen as a general guideline.

Certain Veggies

A good rule of thumb is to pick vegetables that are low in fiber and are steamed and boiled (whether you purchased them fresh, frozen, or canned). However, never eat them raw, since they may cause irritation or aggravate your gastric symptoms. You may add a bit of seasoning or a very little amount of butter if you want your boiled or steamed veggies to taste better.  While some people with gastrointestinal condition can’t tolerate spices or even a bit of fat, this is not true for all.

Oftentimes, people who follow a bland diet are advised to stick to these vegetables: carrots, green beans, peas, beets, pumpkin, peeled white or sweet potatoes, and spinach. Meanwhile, some individuals can tolerate a small amount of lettuce and other salad greens. Always refer to your food journal.

Low-Fiber Fruits

With this diet, it is ideal you stick to low-fiber fruits, such as avocados, melon, applesauce (no sugar added), baked apples (skinless and seeded), and canned pears and peaches (no sugar added). A good rule of thumb is to stick to canned and cooked fruits that are seeded and low in fibers.

Protein Sources

Good protein sources approved for this diet include tender or ground meat, skinless chicken, egg, shellfish such as lobster, crab, and shrimp, fish like salmon, cottage cheese, and silken tofu.  In general, lean protein sources are safe to eat provided that they are cooked with minimal seasonings and no or very little fat.

You may also consider plant-based milk alternatives, such as coconut milk, coconut yogurt, almond milk, and walnut milk.

Carb Sources

Processed grains, such as seedless rye, white bread, and refined wheat products are often a good choice, although take note that some people cannot tolerate gluten in their diet.  If you don’t have issues with gluten, you’ll have no problem eating soft white pasta, plain soda crackers, cold cereals with very little sugar content, and cooked cereals such as processed oatmeal, farina, and cream of wheat.

Other Food Items You May Want to Consider

Smooth soups and broth are often safe to eat, although some people may not tolerate tomato soup.  Smooth nut butters like almond butter and peanut on white bread are also a good option.

banana breakfast

What You Can’t Eat

Again, the list of food stated below is a general guideline, as opposed to a rigid diet rule.  Always check with your food journal, doctor, and nutritionist to make sure that your bland diet meets your nutritional needs, medical condition, and gastric symptoms.

High-Fat Dairy

Daily products, particularly when they are high in fat and are strongly flavored, often exacerbate flare-ups of Crohn’s sufferers and people with digestive issues. Hence, you may want to avoid or at least limit your consumption of whole milk, ice cream, bleu cheese, whipped cream.

Meanwhile, some people have no problem with cottage cheese and other mildly flavored cheese.

Certain Vegetables

It is best to avoid cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts altogether because they cause gas.  Bland diet also typically excludes cabbage, onion, garlic, and peppers.  Meanwhile, some people can tolerate tomato and tomato products, while others have to avoid them entirely because the high acidity of these foods may irritate their digestive tract.

Certain Fruits

The general rule of thumb is to avoid fruits with too much fiber, seeds, skin, and acid because they are known to exacerbate gastric symptoms. They typically include grapes, prunes, all berries, grapefruits, oranges, limes, and lemons. Also, avoid or minimize the consumption of dried fruits and fruit juices and shakes.

Fatty and Tough Protein Sources

Chicken with skin on, beef, and dried fish may irritate your digestive lining, while dried and canned beans and lentils may result in flatulence. Hence, you may want to avoid these foods altogether.

Also avoid meat sauce, fried and greasy protein sources, and processed deli meats.

Whole Grains

Because the core principle of the bland diet is to reduce the amount of fibers, avoid or at least limit your consumption of whole grain foods such as barley, rye, brown rice, quinoa, wheat, high-fiber or steel cut oatmeal, whole wheat pasta and bread, and any product whose packaging states added fiber (e.g., cereals).

Other Foods You May Want to Avoid or Limit

Caffeinated beverages, such as tea, soda, and coffee, carbonated drinks, all types of alcoholic drinks, most dressings, and sauces like ketchup and mustard are known to irritate the gut of people with gastric issues. The same is true for nuts, granola, chocolate, popcorn, fatty and creamy desserts such as cheesecake, and foods with strong seasonings (chili pepper and garlic).

berries diet


A bland diet is ideal for someone with a compromised gastrointestinal system, who needs a diet that will give his or her gut a rest. It is composed of foods that are easy to digest and are “non-irritating” in order to prevent or lessen the gastric symptoms.

Despite the many benefits of the bland diet, it is only recommended for a short time. After all, fibers are a critical part of your diet because they promote the proliferation of good bacteria in your gut, help maintain a healthy bowel movement, and contribute to a healthy weight.

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Brat Diet: Is It Really Effective? Great Tips To Lose Weight

brat diet

BRAT is a special diet for people with stomach illness such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and cramping. This is actually an acronym for the foods included in the diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.

These foods are low in fiber, fat, and protein, and thus they are gentle on the stomach. But as with any highly restrictive diet, it is only recommended for a short time; i.e., not longer than 48 hours in adults, or 24 hours in children.

In the event that your diarrhea or other gastric symptoms persist longer than 1-2 days, you may still continue your BRAT diet provided that you gradually include other foods to make sure that you get enough calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients. Take note that prolonged use of any restrictive diet is tied to malnutrition, lethargy, and a wide range of health problems.

What Is the BRAT Diet Meant to Do?


The idea behind the BRAT diet is to give the digestive tract a chance to rest by reducing the amount of stool and the frequency of the bowel movement. Read on the list of people who may benefit from this easy-to-digest, highly restrictive diet.

  • Adults and children suffering from diarrhea
  • Pregnant women who suffer from morning sickness
  • People with stomach illness that is often associated with loose stool, cramping, vomiting, nausea, and/or pain

In the past, BRAT was commonly recommended for young children and infants with an upset stomach, although nowadays experts say that due to its insufficient nutrients and calories, it may not be the best option for sick children.

Because the BRAT diet lacks essential nutrients, macronutrients, and protein for healing; some experts modify this by including a variety of foods. Several studies have shown that some of the BRAT foods may improve diarrhea.

For example, banana is rich in pectin, which is a starch that reduces stool and bowel movement; and potassium, a mineral or electrolyte that you lose during a bout of diarrhea. This fruit also helps with the absorption of water and is bland enough to pass easily through your compromised digestive tract.

In a nutshell, this super fruit is the nature’s best remedy for diarrhea.

In fact, one study involving baby boys aged 5-12 months who suffered from diarrhea has shown that the group who ate banana with rice required less intravenous fluids for hydration, experienced less vomiting, and had a reduction in the amount of stool and frequency of bowel movement compared to the group who were only given a rice diet.

What Can You Eat


Due to the restrictive nature of BRAT diet, some experts prefer its modified versions. For instance, one version is called BRATY, which adds yogurt to the list of food, and BRATT, which includes tea.

To reiterate, the BRAT diet is not intended to be used long term, because it does not provide enough macronutrients, micronutrients, protein, and fiber. Hence, many experts who recommend this diet suggest that you also add other bland and easy-to-digest foods such as:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth, sweet potatoes
  • Steamed skinless potato without cream, butter, and other additives.
  • Saltine crackers
  • Steamed, grilled, or baked chicken provided that it is stripped of skin and fat
  • Processed oatmeal (not steel cut or high-fiber oatmeal)
  • Watermelon

bowl of cherries and chicken


Good Bacteria-Rich Foods


Studies have shown that beneficial gut bacteria, also known as probiotics, could shorten the course of diarrhea.  The types of bacteria that are known to be the most effective remedy for frequent bowel movement are Lactobacillus reuteri, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Lactobacillus GG.

Aside from probiotics, products that are often taken together with oral rehydration treatments; other good sources of probiotics include natural yogurt, miso soup, kombucha, kefir sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables.

According to several studies, the combination of probiotics and oral rehydration products may help reduce the duration and frequency of diarrhea by 24 hours.


Staying Hydrated


Dehydration is one of the risks that comes with a prolonged bout of diarrhea and vomiting, because the body loses more fluids than it can take. Its symptoms include dry mouth, weakness, heart palpitations, lightheadedness especially when standing, lack of tears and sweat, confusion, and muscle cramps.

During bouts of diarrhea, it is a sacrosanct rule to drink more fluids to combat dehydration, which is particularly dangerous in children and the elderly. Aside from water and oral rehydration products (e.g. Pedialyte), other fluids such as clear broths, apple juice, coconut water, and ginger or peppermint tea can also help. Conversely, avoid sugary drinks, because they are known to exacerbate diarrhea, cramping, and other gastric symptoms.

Meanwhile, you can purchase oral rehydration products over-the-counter at a pharmacy; they come in powdered (to be mixed with water), popsicle, or liquid form. They are suitable for children and adults with mild-to-moderate dehydration.


Foods to Avoid


If you’re in the bland or BRAT diet, it means you have to avoid foods that are known to irritate your compromised gastrointestinal system or cause increased bowel movement.  A good rule of thumb is to exclude these following food items in your diet for the meantime:

  • Dairy products such as cheese, milk, cream, and ice cream
  • Fried and fatty foods
  • Sugar-laden foods such as chocolates, sodas, candies, cakes, and cookies
  • Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and sorbitol
  • Certain veggies, such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli
  • All forms of beans
  • “Tough” proteins such as steak and pork
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeinated beverages such as black tea, coffee, and cola drinks because of their diuretic effect
  • Spicy foods



Is It Effective?


For decades, people with stomach illness have been compelled to follow the BRAT diet. However, recent clinical trials have failed to establish its effectiveness in treating or alleviating the symptoms of diarrhea or gastrointestinal illness. Some foods in the BRAT diet, particularly banana and rice, have shown to reduce the frequency and duration of diarrhea because they easily and gently pass through the digestive tract, which is extra sensitive during a bout of stomach flu.

For example, banana is rich in pectin, which is a starch that reduces stool and bowel movement, and potassium, a mineral or electrolyte that you lose during a bout of diarrhea. This fruit also helps with the absorption of water and is bland enough to pass easily through your compromised digestive tract.

Experts suggest that you can eat more foods than the BRAT diet dictates. The key is to stick to bland foods (low in fat, protein, and fiber) that are gentle on the stomach. Bland foods also have “binding” effects and so your stool firms up quicker.

Meanwhile, if your child has some type of stomach illness, the BRAT diet may still help alleviate his symptoms, although most experts suggest that he must continue to eat a variety of foods to help him meet his daily nutritional requirement for a quick recovery.


Sample BRAT Diet for Adults


First six hours of your illness: Six hours after your vomiting has stopped, it is ideal to give your stomach some time to rest.  Afterwards, you may suck on a popsicle or hard candy before you slowly progress to sipping water if your nausea persists.

Day one: If your vomiting has stopped, gradually add clear liquids such as chicken and vegetable broth, weak tea, flat soda, apple juice, and water. Ideally, sip or consume just a little amount at a time to prevent upsetting your compromised stomach. If your nausea or vomiting persists, avoid consuming anything for about an hour before you resume the process again.

Day two: Add bland, soft foods such as banana, rice, applesauce, saline crackers, jelly, and cooked cereals. You may also consider taking oral rehydration products.

Day three: At this point, you may gradually introduce “regular” foods that are still gentle on the stomach. Examples include hard-boiled eggs, white meat such as chicken and turkey, steamed or boiled vegetables, and sherbet.



While recent clinical studies attempting to prove the effectiveness of the BRAT diet are inconclusive, anecdotal reports show that for some people they do help alleviate gastric symptoms.  But as with any restrictive diet, it provides inadequate nutrition and calorie and so most experts only recommend sticking to this diet not longer than 48 hours, or at least add a variety of foods to make sure that you still get adequate nourishment.

This could be a great tool to get you functioning normally again, but it is not a permanent solution.

If you follow the BRAT diet in order to find relief from diarrhea, make sure that you also take more fluids (or more ideally oral rehydration products) to combat mild to moderate dehydration.

Meanwhile, visit your health care provider if your diarrhea lasts for more than three days, or if you develop symptoms of severe dehydration, such as reduced urine, lightheadedness, and sunken cheeks.

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Don’t Ruin Your Diet By Making These Dieting Mistakes

There you were happily reaching your goals in weight loss and then there it was, the weight had started to return. You likely are thinking to yourself, how in the world did that happen? You may not even realize it, but even the slightest violation when on a diet can bring the weight scurrying back. It is important, while dieting, that you are extremely careful.

The next few tips will help you remember what you should not be doing while you are dieting.

Take it easy on yourself. Diet mishaps happen, mistakes happen, sometimes we miss certain foods so much, and we may start eating them again. This could result in bring some of the lost weight back. It is important that you refrain from beating yourself up over it. Even if you make a mistake, get yourself back on the right track and continue on with the diet as if nothing happened.

Do not allow yourself to diet with an alternative. With many diets, you have to give up the foods you typically love such as pizza, French fries, fried chicken, chips, cheesecake, and ice cream. As hard as it is to give up these things, you should take comfort that you can find alternatives to these food. Even though society has raised us to believe that vegetables, fruit, or any healthy low fat foods are not enjoyable. This is not true, even those foods listed above, have fat reduced versions now days.

Always have support! This is an important aspect of any diet. Without support, it is extremely hard to begin and keep with any diet plan. Your loved ones should be there to offer you support while you are dieting. Furthermore, thee are a great many weight loss counselors, meetings, and forum groups that can help you along in your journey.

What is great about weight loss groups is that they have been right where you are in your journey to weight loss, so they can offer some unique advice and insight. For example, they can give you ideas about new and exciting ideas for exercising or with recipes for eating healthy, as well.

Finally, do not give up! When you give into the nagging craving for your favorite foods, you are taking yourself a little further from your weight loss goals each time. Being on a diet does not mean you need to have tasteless foods, but it does mean you need to steer clear from high fat and high calorie foods. Opt for the alternatives instead of the sure to bring your weight back foods.

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Dieting Strategy — Stop Diet Drop Out

Diet drop out, a significant problem for all types of diets, requires a new dieting strategy. Exchange it…and watch diet drop out rates plummet.

What is Diet Drop Out?

To stop a diet plan before reaching your goal or before reaching a pre-defined time limit is called diet drop out. Not one diet succeeds at keeping diet drop out rates low. One or more of the following strategies are used by diet plans in attempts to eliminate diet drop out:

Shorter Dieting Sessions

This is a strategy that more often back fires, setting the stage for weight gain. Subjects placed on shorter dieting sessions experienced weight loss at a faster rate than those following longer sessions.

Fast weight loss (over 3-4 pounds/week) is unhealthy and negates any progress made on lowering diet drop out rates.

Severe Calorie Restriction

This strategy follows the same principle as faster dieting sessions. Allow dieters to lose weight fast, and they won’t have time to drop out. Unfortunately, severe calorie restriction also causes weight gain.

Diet Holidays

This strategy allows dieters to take long breaks or “holidays” from following the diet. However, the opposite result is often observed. Diet drop out rates increase because many dieters never start the diet again.

In order to provide a strategy that works, diet plans should ask dieters why they drop out. Then simply provide a solution for the reason dieters drop out, problem solved.

Why Dieters Drop Out

When dieters are asked “what is the hardest part about dieting”, the response is surprising. Most dieters say that following strict diet menus, not exercise, is the hardest part.

A good strategy for decreasing diet drop out rates would address the menus. This is exactly what Exchange it accomplishes…giving dieters more control over what they eat.

The exchange process involves substituting healthy food choices for harmful ones. For instance, substitute a healthy fat, like Omega-3, for saturated fats. This allows you to eat more fats, and still remain on your diet.

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